Close-Up Of Feature On Charon Has Geologists ‘Stunned And Stumped’

Image Credit:  NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

July 16, 2015 – This new image of an area on Pluto’s largest moon Charon has a captivating feature — a depression with a peak in the middle, shown on the lower left of the inset.

The image shows an area approximately 200 miles (300 kilometers) from top to bottom, including few visible craters.

“The most intriguing feature is a large mountain sitting in a moat,” said Jeff Moore with NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, who leads New Horizons’ Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team. “This is a feature that has geologists stunned and stumped.”

This image gives a preview of what the surface of this large moon will look like in future close-ups from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. This image is heavily compressed; sharper versions are anticipated when the full-fidelity data from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) are returned to Earth.

The rectangle superimposed on the global view of Charon shows the approximate location of this close-up view.

The image was taken at 6:30 a.m. EDT (10:30 UTC) on July 14, 2015, about 1.5 hours before closest approach to Pluto, from a range of 49,000 miles (79,000 kilometers).